Journal of Business Ethics 164 (1):61-80 (2020)

This paper investigates how ethics is incorporated in the qualification process for prospective professional accountants across Australia and New Zealand. It does so by examining the structure of these qualification processes and by analysing the learning objectives and summarised content for ethics courses that prospective accountants take either at university or through the post-degree programs provided by CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. We do this to understand how the ‘sandwich’ approach to teaching ethics :77–92, 1993) is implemented. This approach advocates a standalone ethics course, followed by ethical cases that are integrated across accounting courses, and subsequently a capstone course that combines ethics and professionalism. We test the extent to which this approach is adopted and examine how its application relates to the components of moral behaviour. The results provide three significant contributions. The first is that the ‘sandwich’ approach is not in place for most prospective accountants as only a minority of programs include a mandatory course with a substantial ethics component, and this is more likely in undergraduate rather than postgraduate programs. The second contribution is that although moral sensitivity and moral judgement are widely considered, little attention is given to issues of moral motivation and moral character. We suggest that change is unlikely without explicit ethical education requirements from the professional accounting bodies. The paper also makes a final contribution by proposing a more nuanced typology characterising the degree to which ethics is incorporated in particular courses.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-018-4064-2
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